Why Do Cats Drool?

Have you ever seen a cat drool? It’s either cute or can be a bit off-putting, depending on the reasoning behind it.

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I’ve seen it both ways: my happy, purring cat drooling a little and my terrified, vet-bound cat drooling all over himself while incessantly meowing in protest. I’ve seen my cats drool in such vastly different situations, it’s left me wondering — why do cats drool?

Quick Answer…

The most common reason a cat drools is because they’re relaxed and happy. This usually happens when you’re petting them, and could be accompanied by purring or kneading. While a drooling cat tends to signify happiness, severe drooling could be a sign of a medical issue.

Why Do Cats Drool?

As I mentioned above, cats usually drool because they’re happy. However, there are a few other reasons cats drool, and they aren’t all as positive.

Because They’re Scared

Severe emotional reactions, such as fear or stress, can trigger drooling. When a cat feels nauseous, he tends to drool before throwing up. This can be as a result of motion sickness from driving around in the car, or being put in any kind of extremely stressful situation. If your cat is drooling because they’re scared or nauseous, it’ll end once the event is over.

One of my cats always drools so much whenever we have to take him in the car — it’s pretty gross. But, he always stops once we’re back on solid ground. If your cat is drooling a lot more than he should be, it could be from a medical issue.

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As a Symptom of a Dental Condition

Dental issues can cause your cat to have excessive drool. This could include anything from mouth disease or tooth decay to oral cancer, so it’s important to have your cat checked out by a vet if you think their drool is happening too often.

Because of a Foreign Body

Your cat might have eaten some kind of food, treat, or plant outside that got stuck in their throat and they’re trying to get it out. While this isn’t one of the most common reasons, the foreign body stuck in their throat could cause them to drool while they’re trying to get it out. Drooling is also a precursor to vomiting, so if your cat is trying to throw up whatever is stuck, they might start drooling first.

As a Result of a Respiratory Infection

Upper respiratory infections that affect the nose, sinuses or throat of a cat can also make them drool. If your cat came from a shelter, it’s more likely they could have contracted something from being around the other cats. If your cat is showing signs of an illness, seek your veterinarian’s attention.

Heatstroke

One of the symptoms of a heatstroke is drooling, along with panting, vomiting and staggering. While drooling is only one of these symptoms, if your cat is panting and drooling it could be a sign they’re overheated. Try to keep you cat in a cool area and give it some water, and hopefully the drooling will stop.

They Ate a Poisonous Plant

Many common houseplants are poisonous to cats, such as aloe vera and tulips. Drooling is a symptom of a cat that’s eaten a plant poisonous to them. If you suspect your cat might have eaten one of your plants, take them to a vet for medical attention. Just to be safe, here’s a complete list of plants that are poisonous to cats.

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I know, quite a few of these reasons are a bit scary. A little bit of kitty drool is nothing to worry about, but if the drooling persists it could signify something a bit more serious. Especially if it’s accompanied by any other kinds of symptoms.

Otherwise, your happy cat will be adorably purring and drooling away!

Jacquelyn Pica

Jacquelyn Pica is cat mom to Bean Man Jones, a 2-year old adopted stray. She's also a top-notch pet writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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